This section of the book is from the "A Man and His Money" book, by Harvey Reeves Calkins , published in 1915.
We return now to the tithe of value. The rendering of the tenth is the first obligation of stewardship, for it is the obligation of honor. But the tenth, set apart and devoted to God, can be used neither by angels nor seraphim. It remains in the hands of the man by whom it has been set apart, and by him it must be administered. What, then, shall be done with the tithe?
The primal law that calls for the setting apart of a definite portion of income, names also the purpose for which it shall be set apart—the tithe is the Lord's. Until John the Baptist cried, "Behold the Lamb of God!" the blood of young calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, were ordained in sacrificial worship of the Holy God. In early centuries the devotion of animals from the herd, and of fruit from the tree, and corn from the field covered the complete circle of a man's wealth. This was the tithe of value which he devoted in acknowledgment that God owned all. It was not to maintain a priesthood that the tenth was set apart, for the priesthood was a later development. Long centuries before "the house of Levi" was raised up the tithe of value acknowledged God's sovereignty. When, in the fuller development of a nation's life, it became necessary to set apart an ordained priesthood, this was for the instruction and well-being of the people themselves. Men must be set apart whose business it would be to teach the people the way of the Lord, to instruct them in righteousness and truth, and to hold aloft the moral law, "lest they die." No nation can survive except it maintain a pure company of religious teachers.
But preachers and religious teachers have no claim against the tithe of God. The maintenance of this group of workers is a rightful charge against the people. Without these the people perish, therefore the people shall maintain them. It were a worthy use of the tithe to consume it all in burnt offerings, for its primary purpose is to acknowledge the divine sovereignty. Men can claim no part of it as theirs; it does not belong to human kind. The tithe is the Lord's.
Nevertheless, God abhors all waste. To what purpose is the multitude of sacrifices unto him, unless the worship of the people is intelligent? Often I have walked along the Ganges, at a Hindu festival, and watched the worshipers sacrificing money to the sacred stream. Copper pice in abundance would be thrown to the yellow water, for most of the people never handle higher values. But copper was not the only coin that dropped into the bosom of Mother Ganga. At times a curtained boat would put out from the shore, and, in midstream, rich Hindu devotees, laving their foreheads with the sacred element, would consign silver rupees, and often gold sovereigns of the realm, to that mysterious current. If religious giving could ennoble men, then were India high in honor among the nations. But God is not honored, nor is manhood ennobled, by the offerings of mere religious zeal, whether those offerings fall from the hands of Hindus, Jews, or Christians. To what purpose, then, is the multitude of sacrifices unto God? Worship must be intelligent. God is dishonored by all religious waste. Therefore God receives, as it were, the offering dedicated unto him, then gives it back again, saying, "Invest this value for me, that the worship of men shall be pure upon the earth, for they that worship me must worship me in spirit and in truth."
Efficiency in holiness is the law of God's kingdom. Not the offering of things, whether first fruits or tithes, but the fine sacrifice of a contrite spirit, this is worship. When, therefore, God separated from the other nations a chosen race, and committed unto them the oracles of divine truth, then it was that he ordained a perpetual use of the holy tithe. To this use it was dedicated by the Lord God himself. It is well understood that no Jew could "dedicate" his tithe (Lev. 27. 26-34), for it was already dedicated; God himself had named the purpose for which it should be used. Thus it is written: "It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they [the Levites] have no inheritance. But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the Lord, / have given to the Levites to inherit" (Num. 18. 23-24). But why were the Levites to be cut off from all other sources of income, and be maintained by the tithe of God? The reason is plainly stated: "Behold, I have given} the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation" (Num. 18.21).
A certain reputed Irishman suggested that because it was broad daylight there would be no further need of the sun. But this Celtic exuberance is sober reasoning when we set it beside the suggestion, implied in the remarkable attitude of some Christian men, that, because God's full revelation has come through Jesus Christ, therefore God's sovereignty need be no longer acknowledged ! For, we are told, the Jewish dispensation has passed away, and, with it, the ceremonial law of the Jewish people, including, of course, the tithe. Must we be hourly exhorted, that we shall be able to "distinguish the things that differ"? In truth, the tabernacle is no longer served by the sons of Levi. The cords of that tabernacle have been lengthened and their line is gone out into all the earth. Christianity has succeeded Judaism as full day has followed the dawn. But the human and divine basis of worship is unchanged; therefore the tithe of value, as an expression of worship, continues also unchanged. In ancient days God gave back the tenth, that belonged to him, in order that the worshipers themselves might be provided with spiritual instruction. If Christianity is entitled to its place of spiritual primacy in the world, discerning men to-day will not fail to recognize the ordained and rightful use of that same dedicated portion.
1 The tithe is not given by men but by God.
Judaism had its own stewardship to administer in the world. It was perfect for the purpose to which it was appointed. To the Jew were intrusted "the oracles of God," and the secret of the Messiah who was to come. Christianity has another stewardship in the world. It is no more sacred than that which was committed to Judaism, but it is larger and infinitely richer. The Jew waited for Christ's coming; his stewardship, therefore, was for Israel; but the Christian interprets that coming, and his stewardship is for the world. In Judaism, by the express command of Jehovah, the sacred tenth was dedicated to a special use, "even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation"; for it was this "service," and all the varied ceremonies and institutions that centered in it, which maintained the hope of Israel. Without intelligent teaching Judaism could never have been intrusted with the oracles of God. The acknowledgment of one God would still have saved them from surrounding idolatry, but the stewardship for which the Hebrew people were appointed would have perished from human thought.
Is there an institution, absolutely vital to the Christian faith, even as "the service of the tabernacle of the congregation" was vital to the faith of ancient Israel, an institution whose principal business is to maintain the intelligent worship of God, and to extend among men the knowledge of Jesus Christ ? If such an institution can be found upon the earth, we have found the divinely ordained successor of the tribe of Levi, which in ancient days was appointed to receive "all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they served." If the Jew was not permitted to "dedicate" his tithe, but was required faithfully to devote it to the purpose for which God had already dedicated it, the obligation rested upon fundamental reason; it was neither local nor arbitrary. Surely, Christian intelligence will recognize the same holy obligation. If honor is required to set apart a tenth in acknowledgment of God's ownership, then honor is certainly required to administer that tenth in accordance with God's revealed purpose.
Is there, then, such an institution among men, an institution without which Christianity would perish from the earth ? One answer awaits us, and reasonable men will pause not a moment to accept the word. It is the church.